Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bhay Ho

The Time is NOW

“I’ve got the power!”

That’s what one of my friend’s Facebook status was a few weeks ago. On asking her the source of this new found empowerment, I was told that she had just got her voter identification card. I was pleasantly surprised at her response. It also made me wonder why so few others saw the democratic process like she did, as a means of empowerment.

After some interrogation the answers became clear. People just feel too insignificant in the electoral process. This may be attributed to the fact that in a country as populous as ours, one vote in a sea of a billion does make it seem deceptively trivial, deceptive being the key word. ‘Every vote counts’ has become an overused cliché to a point where it is at the brink of losing its meaning. But like other clichés about small drops making an ocean, about a journey beginning with one step, etc there is an undeniable truth in the fact that every vote does in fact count.

Another common response is that there are never any worthy candidates. Trying to reason this one out made me come up with a conundrum that had a chicken or the egg undertone to it. Does a healthy electoral participation result in competent governance or vice versa? We could argue this one out for a while, but the one surety is that both are essential for the optimal outcome of democracy. Else you have other truisms that tell how mediocre seeds give you a mediocre harvest which may be used to explain the status quo of Indian democracy.

While we are on the question of choosing worthy candidates, we must also remember that this is a run up to a national election. Even if the local candidate may not be worthy, we are at liberty to look at the stand his or her party takes on larger national issues like the economy, development, internal security, foreign policy etc and make an educated choice.

Yet another defeatist response I got was a few mumbled words that in essence were that ‘things would never change, politicians are corrupt, India is India (whatever that means), everyone has a chalta hai attitude etc etc.’ Ah, the cynics! Well the only thing I can say to them is that it is for certain that with their attitude NOTHING will change.

The reasons not to vote are many, and after a point these reasons seem to bear a stark resemblance to excuses. To quote my mentor, Sudheendra Kulkarni, “if we fail democracy, democracy will fail us.” To me that is reason enough to vote.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jai Hind? or Jai Hind!

This is one of those rare pictures that makes you fight back tears, and yet some how gives you hope...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Why I am a Blogger for Advani

Start from slide # 59 if you're feeling lazy (graphical illustration).
Achievements of NDA Government
View more presentations from bjpuploader. (tags: india advani)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

All in the name of Advani bashing

Tavleen Singh's article was extremely shocking and unfounded. I usually read Op-Eds with the proverbial grain of salt. But this was the limit.

I have posted the following response to it:

I am a regular follower of your columns. I found your recent column in the Indian Express quite crass and lacking your usually thorough research. There are 3 points of contention I would like to address:

1.“those worthy of many garlands of pink chaddis—should be of L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh and the Chief Minister of Karnataka.”
Your language is utterly crass and degrading, especially when all the individuals mentioned by you have gone on the record and condemned the attack. In fact the RSS has also called for a ban of the Sri Ram Sene ( broadcastid=112099)

2. “But, what do we do about the ideologues who watch silently from their enclaves of double Z-security?”
By making this statement you somehow suggest that the BJP and the Sri Ram Sene are fruits of the same ideological tree and thus would be politically aligned as well. How then would you explain that the fact that in the recent Karnataka elections the Sri Ram Sene contested as many as 87 seats against the BJP?

3. “ So eager is Shri L.K. Advani to get the job that he is currently asking Pakistanis to vote for him.”
This statement is so unfortunate and unfounded. Anyone who knows anything about Internet advertising knows you control your audience. Which means this ad was probably meant to be seen by an Indian audience (hence an Indian IP address) who frequent these sites. Personally, I think this is extremely strategic marketing – Don’t you? It caught your attention.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Comet, this one's for you...

There's a group called Improv Everywhere ( They had 16 agents staged a spontaneous musical in the food court of a Los Angeles shopping mall. They used wireless microphones to amplify the vocal performances and mix them together with the music through the mall’s PA system. Needless to say, no one in the food court was aware of what was happening.

Absolutely hysterical!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

In a Poetic state of mind

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Must this show go on?

Have you noticed that there seems to be an inverse relation between the number of contenders for Lok Sabha seats and the number of circus performers? Think about it. As a kid growing up in the ‘90s, for me, the circus was a regular affair. I haven’t seen too many of them around these days. Makes you wonder where all those acrobats, clowns, trained animals, trapeze artists, tightrope walkers, jugglers, and unicyclists went. Well, I seem to have found the answer.

Yet another blow to Indian democracy was hurled today. The criteria to run for public office in Indian democracy seem to diminishing at a rapid pace. Basic education qualifications are a far cry, we are stuck grappling with possession of basic ethics as a qualification criteria for potential ministers these days.

The Congress today announced that former cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin would contest Lok Sabha elections from a prestigious seat. Prestigious or not, it is a mockery of what Indian politicians stand for; and may be a step further- what our democracy stands for. I am sure as captain of the Indian cricket team he was “a fine cricketer”. But the Congress is truly insulting the intellect and the memory of the Indian voter if they believe for a second the match fixing scandal he was involved in has been forgotten. So humiliating was the entire charade, that Azharuddin was barred from international cricket. The nations pride, honour and ambitions were sale thanks to this man and somehow the Congress feels it is okay for him to hold office in our great nation. It seems patriotism and national pride are not qualification criteria either.

Recent developments show that being convicted for illegal possession of arms is definitely not a hindrance to one’s political ambitions. Not to mention the man in question, Sanjay Dutt, has led a life that is in no way worthy of emulation in several aspects. Yet the Samajwadi Party sees in him a worthy enough candidate to contest polls from the same Lucknow seat as Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It is a mockery of a life spent in service to the nation. A druggy convict is now being given the opportunity to fill the shoes of one of our nation’s greatest statesmen. What shocked me further was the fact that his wife Manyata was also a contender for the position. What, besides being Mrs. Dutt that is, are her qualifications? Then again, we are a system where all you need as your license to hold public office was in fact a weighty last name. So who am I to complain?

I will tell you who I am. I am a patriot who dreams of a future for her country. I wish to give back to her nation and play a role in its future in any way she can. I plan to educate myself in serving my nation better. Spend time understanding the nuances of Indian governance. Dedicate years understanding the laws that govern and powers that be. My dream is a conundrum- for it is at the same time humble yet audacious, inconceivable yet inevitable. I will tell you who I am to complain- I am a citizen of India, who for no other reason but to serve her nation, would like to enter public life But is afraid that the Azharuddins and Sanjay Dutts of her time will be so deeply ingrained in the Indian political system that there may be no room for her to make a difference. These happenings make me draw parallels between Indian politics and a circus. It might be time for us to ask ourselves- why must this show go on?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Vande Mataram

The words Vande Mataram is literally translated in English to Mother, I bow to thee. It is the national song of India

In 2003, BBC conducted an international poll to choose ten most famous songs of all time. Around 7000 songs were selected from all over the world. According to BBC, people from 155 countries/island voted. Vande Mataram was second in top 10 songs.

The original song has been the source of inspiration for various other creative efforts. This version is one such creation by AR Rahman. The video is directed by G. Bharat (Bala) and Kanika Myer Bharat.

This is what truly inspires me....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Spiritual Shopping

Those of you who know me are probably aware that I am a walking, talking identity crisis. Not that I am unsure of who I am or what I want. That knowledge I am in an ongoing process to deepen. From a religious perspective – I am as confused as a chameleon in a packet of M&Ms. Born to a Muslim father who goes to a temple everyday and a Hindu mother called Vaheeda, you can understand the extent and the roots of my dilemma. To top it all off, I have started every day, for the first 15 years of my life with the Lord’s prayer, celebrating Christmas and Easter as much, if not more than Eid and Diwali.

I came across this poem by the Sufi poet, Rumi. It talks about Spiritual window shoppers.

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These Spiritual Window-shoppers
These spiritual window-shoppers,
who idly ask, 'How much is that?' Oh, I'm just looking.
They handle a hundred items and put them down,
shadows with no capital.

What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.
But these walk into a shop,
and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment,
in that shop.

Where did you go? "Nowhere."
What did you have to eat? "Nothing much."

Even if you don't know what you want,
buy something, to be part of the exchanging flow.

Start a huge, foolish project,
like Noah.
It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.

Rumi, 'We Are Three', Mathnawi VI, 831-845


Yes- I am definitely one of them- a spiritual window shopper that is. Finally, something I can call myself! Window shopping can be a means, but definitely not an end. The fun in shopping is when you walk away from the store counter, waiting to get home and try on that new dress, watch, play station, or whatever else it was you decided to buy. Decided to buy. The act of shopping suggests some activity, a little decision making; this is what separates it from window shopping.

In any case, my spiritual quest has led me to two new paths. My current night stand reads include One Minute Sufi and Vivekananda World Teacher. The recency of my onset on this journey may be measured in hours. However there are 2 points of learning that seem (in the first few chapters atleast) to form the essence of BOTH books!

1) All religions offer different routes to the same goal (Vivekananda); There are many paths to the peak of the mountain, but the view from the top is always the same (Sufi quote)
2) The presence of the Divine is in all beings (Vivekanand); God is all, and all is God (Sufi quote)

That is all the insight I have to share for now. I guess I just shopped a little huh?
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